Saturday, December 5, 2015

Jesus is calling...

artwork by Tamara Peterson

This beautiful work of art by Tamara Peterson seemed to go so well with the anointed and captivating new hymn by Elevation Worship, O Come to the Altar, which begins with the compelling questions, Are you hurting and broken within? Overwhelmed by the weight of your sin? …Have you come to the end of yourself? Do you thirst for a drink from the well? Jesus is calling. O come to the altar, the Father’s arms are open wide. Forgiveness was bought with the precious blood of Jesus Christ…O what a Savior! Isn’t He wonderful?... Bear your cross as you wait for the crown…tell the world of the Treasure you've found. This drew my heart to a study of the word, forgiving, from Colossians 3:13

NASB:
bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.

Amplified: Be gentle and forbearing with one another and, if one has a difference (a grievance or complaint) against another, readily pardoning each other; even as the Lord has [freely] forgiven you, so must you also [forgive].

NET: bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if someone happens to have a complaint against anyone else. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also forgive others.

Phillips: Accept life, and be most patient and tolerant with one another, always ready to forgive if you have a difference with anyone. Forgive as freely as the Lord has forgiven you.

Wuest: bearing with one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a matter of complaint against anyone. Even as and in the degree that the Lord forgave you, in the same manner also you forgive.

Young's Literal: forbearing one another, and forgiving each other, if anyone with any one may have a quarrel, as also the Christ did forgive you -- so also ye;

Forgiving from the Greek word charizomai (given as an act of grace) from charis (grace) means literally to give freely and unconditionally or to bestow as a gift of grace and then to remit a debt, and hence to forgive. The verb charizomai means "to show kindness or favor." The concept came to include both the gracious action and agreeable human qualities. The present tense calls for this to be our continual practice, the middle voice means that we are to initiate the action of forgiving others and to participate in the effects or results of forgiveness. Charizomai is used of God, Who in grace freely bestows on believing sinners the gift of salvation. Charizomai means to forgive freely, graciously, not grudgingly, granting to another as a favor. Charizomai also includes the ideas of favor and goodwill and therefore, if we forgive “just as” God in Christ forgave us, we will "do it with a smile on our face" or perhaps better with a "smile" in our heart. This is the idea of releasing from a debt one who cannot pay. This is exactly what Jesus did for us! How can we do less? And now He even gives us the transforming power, through His grace and His Spirit, to do that which we could not do.

Pastor John MacArthur writes, “The text uses a reflexive pronoun, so it literally reads, “forgiving yourselves.” The church as a whole is to be a gracious, mutually forgiving fellowship. By including the phrase, “just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you…” Paul makes Christ the model of forgiveness. Because He has forgiven us, so also must we forgive others.”

Forgave, also from the Greek word charizomai, means God bestowed forgiveness as a gift out of the marvelous, infinite riches of His grace. He gave help to those who did not deserve and could never earn it. He canceled our humanly unpayable sin debt. So here the Apostle Paul is saying that believers now are to forgive others because God forgave us. Not only that, but that we are to forgive others to the degree that He forgave us which is full and unconditional.

Pastor John Eadie writes, “Christians are to forgive one another because Christ has forgiven them, for His example has all the force of a formal command. They are also to forgive one another as He has forgiven them—fully and freely, at once and for ever; not pardoning seven times, but demurring to the seventy times seven; not insulting him who has injured them by the rigid exaction of a humiliating apology, or stinging him by a sharp and unexpected allusion to his fault; not harboring antipathy, but forgetting as well as forgiving; not indulging a secret feeling of offence, and waiting for a moment of quiet retaliation; but expelling every grudge from their hearts by an honest and thorough reconciliation.”

When missionaries in northern Alaska were translating the Bible into the language of the Eskimos, they discovered there was no word in that language for forgiveness. After much patient listening, however, they discovered a word that means, “not being able to think about it anymore.” That word was used throughout the translation to represent forgiveness, because God’s promise to repentant sinners is, “I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more” (Jeremiah 31:34).

Pastor D. L. Moody used this illustration in one of his sermons: “Picture our Lord Jesus Christ saying to Peter, ‘Go, hunt up the man who put the crown of thorns on My head and tell him that I love him. Tell him that he can have a crown in my kingdom, one without a thorn. Find the man who spat in my face and preach the gospel to him. Tell him that I forgive him and that I died to save him. Find the man who thrust the spear into my side and tell him that there is a quicker way to my heart.’ That is how our Lord Jesus has forgiven us. Now it is our turn. We are to forgive others and make an end of our quarrels. Whether in our home, at work, on the playing field, or in the church, we are called upon to exhibit the spirit of our Lord Jesus. God’s forgiveness, which must coordinate with His justice, is based upon the payment of the penalty by a substitute. Jesus Christ, His Son, paid the penalty for our sin by dying on the cross...Looking at Calvary, God is now free to forgive those who come to Him through the blood of Christ.”

Missionary Stan Mooneyham was walking along a trail in East Africa with some friends when he became aware of a delightful odor that filled the air. He looked up in the trees and around at the bushes in an effort to discover where it was coming from. Then his friends told him to look down at the small blue flower growing along the path. Each time they crushed the tiny blossoms under their feet, more of its sweet perfume was released into the air. Then his friends said, "We call it the forgiveness flower." This forgiveness flower does not wait until we ask forgiveness for crushing it. It does not release its fragrance in measured doses or hold us to a reciprocal arrangement. It does not ask for an apology; it merely lives up to its name and forgives—freely, fully, richly. What a touching example of outrageous forgiveness!

Corrie ten Boom told of not being able to forget a wrong that had been done to her. She had forgiven the person, but she kept rehashing the incident and so couldn't sleep. Finally Corrie cried out to God for help in putting the problem to rest. "His help came in the form of a kindly Lutheran pastor," Corrie wrote, "to whom I confessed my failure after two sleepless weeks." "Up in the church tower," he said, nodding out the window, "is a bell which is rung by pulling on a rope. But you know what? After the sexton lets go of the rope, the bell keeps on swinging. First ding, then dong. Slower and slower until there's a final dong and it stops. I believe the same thing is true of forgiveness. When we forgive, we take our hand off the rope. But if we've been tugging at our grievances for a long time, we mustn't be surprised if the old angry thoughts keep coming for a while. They're just the ding-dongs of the old bell slowing down." "And so it proved to be. There were a few more midnight reverberations, a couple of dings when the subject came up in my conversations, but the force—which was my willingness in the matter—had gone out of them. They came less and less often and at the last stopped altogether: we can trust God not only above our emotions, but also above our thoughts."

Who can forget the Vietnam War picture of Kim Phuc, a 9-year-old girl running naked in terror from her village, hoping to escape the horror of napalm that was burning her skin? The day was June 8, 1972. The pilot of the South Vietnamese plane was carrying out orders to bomb enemy troop positions in the village of Trang Bang. Twenty-four years later, Kim Phuc was invited to Washington in 1996 to speak at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and to place a wreath of flowers to honor the US troops who had given their lives during the war. Kim had said previously that if she could talk to the pilot who dropped the napalm on her, she would forgive him. The person who introduced Kim stated, "An innocent victim of war, she holds no anger at the United States. She feels no anger at the government of Vietnam. She feels no anger at the man who dropped the napalm on her." How could she forgive those who were responsible for causing her so much pain, for scarring her for life? Kim had become a Christian. She understood forgiveness--how to give it and how to receive it (Colossians 3:13). She had been forgiven by Jesus for her own sin, and she was allowing the cycle of forgiveness to continue.

When others affect the course of your life, you face a moment of decision. Though you cannot change the past, you can affect the future by your response to the wrong you suffered at their hands. You can feed the fire of bitterness, or you can hold your scars before God and ask for grace to forgive others for what they have done in the past. As Christians, we have been forgiven a debt so massive that we could never repay it. If you want to show Christ to a world that is seeking love, remember what Christ has freely given you, and then extend that mercy to others. Jesus provided for this through His finished work on the cross. He died so that we would be pardoned and restored to the Father. When we come to Jesus, He forgives our sins of the past and all the sins we will ever commit. But we who are forgiven much must love and forgive others much! Do you need to forgive someone today? What relationship needs restoration? Ask the Holy Spirit to show you any areas where you need to practice forgiveness. God is ready to provide the grace to enable us to forgive and to experience being fully forgiven ourselves. Then we will know the joy God gives as we move from grudges to grace and are ready for prayer.

Lord Jesus, I do not deny the pain that I have experienced, but by Your grace I give You those painful wounds, no matter how deep they are. I realize that I am powerless to fix the past or to change others, but I also understand that Your love can heal me. I give You my scars, O God, and I thank You for the peace and mercy and joy that will flourish within me in the absence of bitterness. Thank You that You’ve forgiven me so many times that I’ve lost count. Each time I fail You, You scoop me up and put me back in right standing with You. When I owe a debt of forgiveness, remind me of the times You’ve forgiven me. Give me Your heart for each person who wrongs or offends me. Help me to walk in forgiveness daily because daily You forgive me. Help me to have a forgiving heart. I need to learn how to receive Your forgiveness and how to forgive those who have wronged me. Create in me a free and forgiving spirit that sees others as You do, responds to them with Your heart, and prays for them with Your love. Help me to forgive others in light of the unconditional love I have found in You. Help me to see past my anger and to resolve disagreements with wisdom and grace. Help me to measure my words and actions before I speak or act. When others wrong me, may I remember all the times You reached down and covered my wrongs with Your mercy, and may I be filled with Your love for them. Draw me into Your Loving Arms as You call me, as I bow at the altar, help me bear my cross as I wait for a crown, and tell the world through forgiveness of the Treasure I’ve found in You. In Jesus’ precious name we pray, amen.

Look Up—meditate on
Colossians 3:13

Look In
—as you meditate on Colossians 3:13 pray to see how you might apply it to your life.

Look Out—as you meditate on
Colossians 3:13 pray to see how you might apply it to your relationships with others.






 

12 comments:

  1. Forgiveness is such an important part of the Christian life. Thank you for your insight and wisdom, Beth!

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    1. Micah, I so agree with you. Thank you for stopping by with such kind words of encouragement. Many blessings to you!

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  2. So much to unpack here on forgiveness! Love this: "Forgave, also from the Greek word charizomai, means God bestowed forgiveness as a gift out of the marvelous, infinite riches of His grace." A gift of his infinite grace! I believe I'll take it. :) Thanks, Beth.

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    1. Thank you, Lisa...it's really true isn't it? All is grace...from the moment God knits us together in our mother's womb until the moment we see Him face to Face...amazing grace. Many blessings to you!

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  3. Forgiveness is challenging! Such a humbling lesson to apologize and forgive. Thanks for sharing this!

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    1. Thank you for stopping by, Pam! I so agree with you...many blessings to you ❤️

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  4. I am visiting from Bonnie's #OneWordAdvent...looking for your post on "peace". I can see a connection with peace and forgiveness, as forgiveness is a letting go to let God put us back together, as the word peace stems from the Greek root word that means joining together again. I love the stories of missionaries you shared. Corrie ten Boom's is powerful, with the image of the tolling bell that slowly stops tolling. She is such a great example to us of Biblical forgiveness. Thanks for your words here.

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    1. Thank you for your thoughtful comments, Anna. I so agree with you about the connection between peace and forgiveness...Corrie ten Boom's story is such a beautiful, visual and auditory reminder of this Truth. Many blessings to you ❤️

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  5. Isn't it fun to look into the words of the Bible and find out the history and original meanings and what we should be doing with them!? Thank you for doing the hard work on this one, though it is so rewarding!!! <3

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    1. Thank you, Marisa. It is a joy and a privilege to dig into God's word and find such treasures, morning after morning. I love sharing with others what Christ has used to encourage me. Many blessings to you ❤️

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  6. Hello Beth, how have you been? As you usual you dig deeply into a verse and it is beautiful.
    How is your project going? I am really looking forward to hearing about it.
    Lots of love to you my friend. Keep moving in Good faith.

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    1. Thank you, Ifeoma. I'm enjoying writing the blog posts, not working on getting them into book form. Thanks for your encouragement though. Many blessings to you for a very Merry Christmas ❤️

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